Report of the Committee for 2018

This annual report summarises Strings Attached activity during 2018, and includes the Coffee Concert Season 2017/8.

We’ve had another successful season of Coffee Concerts provided by the Brighton Dome and Festival.

This year we heard concerts from the Fournier Trio, the Castalian (twice) and Zemlinsky Quartets, and two further trios (Harman, Walker and Baillieu and the Trio Isimisz) as the regular programme. Repertoire was varied including a wide range from Haydn to Dutilleux.

Many felt that the high point of the season was the extra concert in April in memory of Caroline Brown made possible by the kind generosity of sponsor Mrs Christina (Tina) Gee. Quatuor Arod, a young exciting French quartet, delighted us with their fresh, sensitive and energetic interpretations of Haydn’s Opus 74 No 3 and Beethoven’s second Razumovsky Quartet – both works we thought we knew well until we heard them anew from this extraordinary quartet. Benjamin Attahir’s Al’Asr, written for this group, left many of us at a loss to express the experience – a remarkable new, contemplative and complex piece performed by an outstanding quartet. We’ve asked if it might be possible to have them again one day, though fear they are destined for greatness beyond the Coffee Concert budget!

During the season other Friends expressed a wish to sponsor concerts, for which we are very grateful. During our temporary stay at the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts we are constrained by availability of the venue. We are in discussion about how we can best make good use of our members’ generosity and increase the offer of chamber music when we return to the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange in 2019.

The refurbishment of the Corn Exchange proceeded apace throughout the year and members of the committee were invited to view progress in December. The transformation – both as sensitive restoration of this important Grade 1 listed building and as an exceptional twenty first century events venue – is already very impressive. We very much look forward to returning to this transformed space for the 2019/20 season.

The Cavatina Scheme has continued to be popular, with several younger attendees in evidence at every concert. This is gratifying.  Leaflets advertising the concert series and encouraging young people to join the audience on free tickets were widely distributed in regular concert venues in Brighton and Hove, Lewes and Seaford.

Our website, revised and given a new look during the year, has continued to contain a Calendar of upcoming chamber music concerts in the Brighton/Lewes area with links through to the individual events.  It also hosts a Directory of local amateur chamber music players which is particularly useful for newcomers to the area. We are grateful to Chris Darwin for maintaining these elements and to David Botibol for his continued efficient management of the site.

Collaboration with Brighton Dome and Festival has continued to be excellent and we are grateful to Andrew Comben and Amanda Northcote – Green in particular for listening to our concerns and working with us to maintain the high standards Friends enjoy at the Coffee Concerts.

We’ve also received help from others during the year: Chris Darwin’s  programme notes (helped once again by Helen Simpson and Guy Richardson) have become such an established feature of the Coffee Concerts that it is difficult to imagine life without them.  Andrew Polmear, in addition to being responsible for our newsletter, has continued to provide reviews after every concert and has now been appointed Strings Attached official concert reviewer. We are also grateful to Friends including Richard Amey for additional reviews. Reviews from others would be very welcome.

Our work is only possible as a result of the kind generosity of Friends – your subscriptions and donations will be helping not only to keep the future of the Coffee Concerts secure but also to provide more wonderful chamber music for people who live around Brighton and Hove.  Donations in particular will make it possible occasionally to provide extra concerts after our return to the Corn Exchange. If you would like to find out more or make a donation please contact us at

On 31 December 2018 we had 90 Friends.

Current Committee:

Mary McKean (Chair), Christine Moon (Treasurer), Margaret Polmear (Secretary), Guy Richardson, Helen Simpson


Mary McKean